Andrew McClean & Sam Gardom
‘Rejoice in contributions to United Kingdom by Migrants’ says Chris Bryant MP
With the 2013 political party conference season in full swing and wild assertions being shouted from the rooftops in an attempt to define and reinforce their party identities, the subject of immigration is naturally a hot topic. The Labour entourage have been camped out on Brighton seafront for the last week discussing a wide range of issues. However, with dissenting voices from his own front bench declaring Ed Miliband to be, “ too concerned with poll ratings to adopt a principled stand on immigration”* this was an important opportunity for his party to outline their immigration policies.
The Shadow Minister for Borders and Immigration was the headline act at a fringe event during the Labour Party’s conference week in Brighton. Speaking about immigration and the effects on growth, Brighton Lite was there to cover the event and find out what Chris Bryant MP had to say.
Chris Bryant MP was keen to set the record straight on Labour’s immigration policy stating, ‘Migrants to the United Kingdom have made an enormous contribution throughout history’. He listed literary nobel prize winner T.S. Elliot amongst a whole host of immigrants who have influenced the United Kingdom for the better including Somalian immigrants in WWI & Polish immigrants in WWII. Chris Bryant’s message was simple, ‘Rejoice in contributions to the United Kingdom by Migrants’. However, he was keen to highlight that ‘Sometimes it doesn’t work for everybody’.
The Shadow Minister suggested immigration must work for all of the parties involved as it threatened the ideology that the Labour Party were founded on, ‘as a socialist, we must make sure we tackle illegal entry to combat shameful trades’ as well as stating that there must be ‘no non skilled door into the United Kingdom’ suggesting it halted the country’s growth as well as being highly dangerous in terms of the immigrants safety and well being. Ewan Willers, Director of Policy for the ACCA called for “evidence based policy” and cited a study soon to be published by his own organisation on the benefits of diversity on workplace productivity. He claimed, “The UK should be open for business”and advised against falling into the same old trap of creating “an electorate driven policy and not one that benefits the workforce” claiming that the Tory solution was a “too blunt tool”.
The MP also spoke about the Coalition Government’s current immigration policy explaining their policy on caps and targets. The Shadow Minister stated, ‘Cameron and Clegg have cut the numbers and done well’ however, he branded the government’s inclusion of international students in their net migration target as ‘Bonkers!’ and claimed international students can only benefit the country. John Longworth, director general of the British Chamber echoed Chris Bryant’s condemnation of Tory policy to reduce the numbers of foreign students and stated, “Students coming into the UK actually represent a service sector export”. He also said that they are one of the only demographics to have a “positive” impact on the welfare system of the United Kingdom and that their links to England create future opportunities for collaboration and investment from abroad. He was however clear that a “low skill, low productivity, low wage economy” is not going to help us on the road to economic growth, and that a skills based system of regulation is needed if we are going to optimise our immigration policy.
It seems while Labour recognises the benefits of immigration, they are also keen to implement a stricter and more thorough immigration process to be able to cope with a continued influx of immigrants. Chris Bryant MP was enthusiastic about reaping the benefits of immigration and the positive impact it can have on UK growth through what he claims to be a more ‘skills based’ approach, whilst also addressing the concerns of the British public.
*Shadow Health Minister Dianne Abbott.